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Spend a ‘Wild’ Evening or Afternoon at the Wirtz Center

‘The Wild Party’ takes audiences back to the ‘Roaring 1920s’ with lavish musical score

  • Andrew Lippa’s musical of love and loss to open Valentine’s Day weekend
  • Lippa will attend the Feb. 13 opening and join the cast on stage for post-show discussion
  • Production directed and choreographed by The House Theatre of Chicago’s Tommy Rapley
  • Stage production’s characters live fast and vibrant lives associated with the 1920s

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Decadence and jealousy drive Andrew Lippa’s Drama Desk award-winning musical “The Wild Party.” The upcoming show is part of the winter 2015 Mainstage season at Northwestern University’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts.

Northwestern’s rendition of Lippa’s production will be staged from Feb. 13 to March 1, at the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. It will feature a nearly 30-member Northwestern student cast.

Lippa plans to attend the Feb. 13 opening night performance. He also will join the cast and guest director and choreographer Tommy Rapley on stage that night for a post-show discussion that will be moderated by Ryan T. Nelson, the Wirtz Center’s music director.

Rapley is a company member of The House Theatre of Chicago, where he has choreographed more than 20 world premieres, including “The Sparrow” (Jeff Award), “Cave with Man” (Jeff Award), “The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan” and “Death and Harry Houdini.”

With book, lyrics and music by Lippa, and musical direction by Nelson, “The Wild Party” is based on Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 narrative poem of the same name.

The musical tells the story of lovers Queenie and Burrs, who decide to throw a party to end all parties in their Manhattan apartment. After the colorful arrival of a slew of guests who live life on the edge, Queenie's wandering eyes land on a striking man named Black. As the decadent party reaches a climax, so does Burrs’ jealousy, which sends him into a violent rage. Gun in hand and inhibitions abandoned, Burrs turns on Queenie and Black. The gun is fired, but who has been shot?

“This production is a drug and booze-fueled evening of debauchery, at the heart of which lies a tragic story of love and loss,” Rapley said. “The characters in the play live fast, vibrant and loud lives -- they are candles burning too hot for their own good, destined to melt and extinguish before the night is over.”

Performances of “The Wild Party” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1.

Audience members are invited to attend the talkback discussions with “The Wild Party” cast following the Feb. 13 opening night, Feb. 15 matinee and Feb. 26 evening performances.

Recommended for adult audiences, this production contains violence, sexual content and strong language. To view a related video, visit

Single tickets are $30 for general public; $27 for seniors over 62 and Northwestern faculty and staff and educators; and $10 for full-time students with valid IDs (at the door) or $5 tickets exclusively for full-time Northwestern students on advance purchase. Discounts are available for groups of eight or more.

The Wirtz Center's production of “The Wild Party” is sponsored, in part, by a generous grant from The Alumnae of Northwestern University.

For more information, phone (847) 491-4819, visit the Wirtz Center website at or email


After nearly three years of construction, Northwestern University’s Art Circle Drive has reopened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The road, drive-up handicap access to all Wirtz Center theaters, the pedestrian path at the lakefront and all sidewalks are now open for public use. New improvements to the South Beach Garage also has eliminated the need to use the stairways at the east and west ends of the two-story parking structure, which is now accessible to persons with disabilities for easy access to the Wirtz Center theaters. Additional parking is also now available in the new Segal Visitors Center at 1841 Sheridan Road.

For more information, phone 847-491-4819, visit the Wirtz Center website at or email

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